Why do they do it?
As we all know, the major commercial software publishers have built huge businesses by producing and selling software.

Often, they have chosen to allow their products to be deployed without any in built technical controls in place.

Then 'to protect' their intellectual property the publishers are legally entitled to take action, which in some cases means auditing customers.

It has been suggested over the years that auditing is just another revenue stream in a market where non-compliance will always exist.

It will be interesting to see over the next few years how the publishers deal with the Chinese and Indian markets, where the majority of software used is apparently unlicensed.

What are they looking for?

Any opportunity to enforce the rules of their software licence contracts that your organisation might have missed.

This can vary from a basic lack of licences for the software that is installed (or available to users) to an intricate nuance of a contract that means that licences that your organisation has purchased in the past are no longer valid, for whatever reason.

What is the affect on your organisation?

Unfortunately, a publisher audit is never a small thing.

The question they always ask is 'What is the licence position for our products?'

However, answering that question can take months of serious work.

It all depends on the:
  • Amount of product deployed - Licence requirement
  • Size of your network
  • Complexity of the systems involved
  • Quality of your licence records - Licence entitlement
  • Speed at which such information can be collated.

What can you do to prepare?

  1. Make sure you understand the risks involved and which publishers are likely to audit your organisation - How to handle
  2. Prepare and maintain the necessary information to achieve Reconciliation for each of that publisher's products - Defining a licence position

In the following pages we look at specific publishers that could request an audit of your organisation:
And then a quick look at Other publisher audits...

We start with a look at Microsoft audits...